Page 4 of Bellini Travel Blog Posts

Africa July 15th 2017

The Amphitheater in Northern Drakensburg is a 5 km long 1,500+ meter escarpment shaped like a ( with Tugela Falls, the second-tallest waterfall in the world, cascading into the gorge below, and then dispersing into fertile grasslands where we stayed for 4 nights- at the aptly-named Amphitheater Backpackers Lodge, with panoramic views of the cliffs that extend for tens of kilometers north and south, making it impossible to climb to the top of the escarpment from the valley without driving around the cliffs for 2 hours on good roads. Amphitheater Hike The hostel runs a guided summit of the Amphitheater every other day. As I mentioned above, though we could see the area towering about 30k from the hostel, it takes about 2 hours to drive around the escarpment to a carpark at the base of ... read more
Climbing down the chain ladders
Backside of plateau
Shadows on Golden fields

Africa » South Africa July 12th 2017

To get to St. Lucia from Coffee Bay was a long haul, so we decided to take the Greyhound to Durban for a couple of nights first. All we really did in Durban was stuff ourselves full of Indian food and walk along the waterfront promenade, surprised by how diverse the people are. The Florida Road area was ideal. From the taxi rank in Durban, that an employee at Tekweni Hostel kindly drove us to, we first took a 2 1/2-hour shared taxi (a bit torturous since the driver blasted elevator jazz with the treble turned up high) to Mtubatuba, a commercial center and travel hub along the coast north of Durban. We were the only tourists wandering through an organized chaos of outdoor markets, big box stores, and taxi ranks. From there it was only ... read more
Hippo play
Big family

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Port St Johns July 1st 2017

We walked the 75 k-ish Wild Coast Trail over the first five days of July 2017, beginning at Amapondo Backpackers in Port St. Johns and ending at Sugarloaf backpackers in Coffee Bay. Peggy put it best - that if this walk was our only excursion in South Africa, we would leave satisfied with our trip. The scenery is spectacular and varied, the locals are friendly and accommodating, and every interaction is a cultural experience to an outsider. The weather is near perfect this time of year, with highs in the low 70sF and lows around 50, with clear skies and a low sun. The rolling terrain of the coastline has plenty of steep ups and downs, but none are sustained or overly technical for an average-ability hiker. Our experience was simply wonderful and we can't recommend ... read more
Gutting Shad
Night 2 crew
Peggy teaching yoga

Africa » South Africa » Gauteng » Johannesburg June 28th 2017

Basically, Johannesburg isn't nearly as bad as we'd expected based on stories from travelers as well as locals. It's hardly a destination, but it's fine to get stuck there for a few days in transit. We didn't walk around at night and we used Uber to get most everywhere. Melville When we arrived in South Africa, we stayed at 84th on 4th, a guest house in the bohemian suburb of Melville. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops to walk to. I went for a morning run in the area and had no problems, though the guest house staff said it wasn't safe for Peggy to walk alone around the nearby botanical gardens. Braamfontein On our way to Vic Falls, we stayed at Once in Jo-burg in this neighborhood close to the city center. There ... read more
Nelson Mandela's House
Trash burning

Europe » Sweden » Skåne » Malmö June 27th 2017

When you click on the Copenhagen option at the automated kiosk in the Malmö train station, it asks if you'd like to travel by ferry or by bridge, failing to clarify that the bridge option would involve a train, rather than a bus, shuttle, or who knows what else. But I guess this is obvious to anyone who lives nearby; it must have been a big deal when that connector was finished, as you can now travel between the cities in as little as 36 minutes. Commuters and Guns n Roses concert goers were fully taking advantage, making for the most jean jackets and suits I've ever seen in one place. There's nothing much to see in Malmö, but the town center is charming and the city parks are the best I've ever seen. Kungsparken is ... read more
A perfect day
Ducks and bubbling water
Park wetlands

Europe » Denmark » Region Hovedstaden » Copenhagen June 27th 2017

I stopped in Copenhagen on a series of hops from the States to South Africa, since flights were cheap. There's no shortage of pretty buildings and "sites," but I was secretly relieved when it started pouring after 20 minutes of the free walking tour, so I had an excuse to bow out without having to hear any more about various pieces of a chess board, or about the paths of the city's many fires. Since it's supposed to be one of the most livable places in the world, and home to the happiest people, I decided that my time and money would be better spent walking to different neighborhoods, eating and drinking at a long list of cafes. People also seem to spend quite a lot of time in the city's fairly expansive network of parks- ... read more
Mark Cuban's yacht
Dinner in Kogens Have
Bikes at the train station

Europe » Iceland » Southwest » Reykjavík June 23rd 2017

If your reason for choosing Iceland is low airfare, you're going to have to channel some dark comedy to endure the inescapable high costs of Reykjavik. Hostel bed in an 8-bunk dorm: $80. Fish and chips at a roadside stand: $17. A beer at a regular bar: $12. Deliciously free and limitless spring water only somewhat makes up for this. Other, non-cost oriented observations: The Vesturbaejalaug Baths are a wonderful alternative to The Blue Lagoon. There's not much ambience, but they're quite clean and offer hot and cold pools, plus a sauna, steam room, and small gym, all for $10. This is one of the best baths I've ever been to - on par with some in Costa Rica, Japan, and Hungary that I've visited. The restaurant Svarta Kaffið is ingenious. All they serve is one ... read more
Ship sculpture

Europe » Iceland » Southwest » Laugavegur June 21st 2017

I had a difficult time finding practical info about walking the Laugavegur Trail in the opposite direction- from Thorsmork to Landmannalauger (skipping the Skogar portion because it's a little sketchy in mid-June), so this entry mainly falls within that scope. I hiked the 55k trail with my buddy Dan, but without a guide. If you're just here to see what I'm up to, there are photos throughout. Hopefully my spellings of Icelandic locations are somewhat consistent. Don't ask me to pronounce any of them. Booking the Huts and Buses For the huts, all you need to do is send an email to with your booking request. I sent an email two months ahead of time and my preferred huts were already fully booked, which is why we had to walk in the opposite direction. The ... read more
River Crossing
View from Álftavatn Huts
Landscape after the climb toward Hraftinnmusker

Central America Caribbean » Aruba February 25th 2017

Before our trip, when I searched for things to do outside of the usual all-inclusive, package-oriented Aruba vacation, I found very little information, so this blog will concentrate on getting off the beach and hired jeep path. Peggy and I stayed two nights at the posh Stellaris Marriott (using her points), two nights at an Airbnb in St. Nicholas, and the last night at the Renaissance near the airport. Anything on the northwest coast of the island (where the best beaches and calmest waters/winds are) caters toward traditional tourists. From Palm Beach and north, it's mainly honeymooning couples and retirees. The restaurants are 100% short-stay tourists and are very expensive and predictable. This extends into the town and mall area near the beaches. However, walking fifteen minutes inland from the resorts for much more authentic and ... read more
Moro Beach, in Arikok National Park.
Palm Beach

South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago August 8th 2016

Pros of Santiago: surprisingly clean, very good metro system, impressive parks, mountain views Cons of Santiago: smog (can't escape because of mountains), lack of cultural flavor Day Trip to Aguas de Ramon The longest hike here is a 16 km loop, but you have to start early or the park rangers will turn you back after the water crossing about 4 km in. It was only a 15 minute Uber ride from the city center to the entry point, making it very accessible, but as such it was horribly crowded on a Saturday, so it wasn't really worth going then unless you like hiking like mules roped together. Day Trip to Cajon del Maipo (see photo at bottom for map of area) We took the metro to Plaza de Puente Alto, the last stop on line ... read more
View from Trail in Cajon de Maipo
Santiago Park
Map of Section in Capon de Maipo

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